Written by PETA
PETA members gathered outside Mike Tyson's home in Las Vegas yesterday to protest the former heavyweight boxing champ's new TV series on Animal Planet, Taking On Tyson, which showcases Tyson's interest in pigeon racing.
Tyson, who once claimed that his former "pet" tigers "liked" being punched in the testicles and face, has now added pigeon abuse to his résumé. Racing pigeons are forced to fly hundreds of miles in all weather extremes as they attempt to get home. The pigeons are vulnerable to both natural predators such as hawks and cruel humans who view them as "pests." In a recent ESPN interview, Tyson said, "I try not to get too attached. That's why I keep breeder pigeons—if a bird gets sick or dies, I can produce another one."
Pigeons raised in rooftop coops have few real-world survival skills. PETA caseworkers have fielded frantic calls from people who have found exhausted, injured, or starving birds. A pigeon-racing industry veterinarian admitted that most lost birds starve to death.
Wagers are often placed on the outcome of races, which not only violates many state gambling laws but also means a grim fate for "losers." Owners have little use for pigeons who can't or don't win, and they unapologetically kill slower birds by wringing their necks, gassing or drowning them, or selling the birds to live poultry markets.
Please let Animal Planet know that you won't be tuning in to Taking On Tyson.
Written by Jennifer O'Connor
"Ready …Set …Um, never mind …"
It seems quite possible that Animal Planet's upcoming reality series starring Mike Tyson might be knocked out of production. (Join us in our sorrow—not.) PETA has identified what might be a fatal flaw in the very premise of Taking on Tyson, which is scheduled to begin filming in Brooklyn next month. See, while pigeon racing is cruel to birds no matter where it takes place, in New York state it's also very likely illegal.
Our letter to Charles J. Hynes, Kings County district attorney, points out that gambling is generally prohibited in New York state—as are races using animals other than horses in which any bet, stake, or reward is involved. Translation: When it comes to racing pigeons in Brooklyn, all bets are off possibly illegal. What's more, trainers are prohibited from making money off such races, and this rule might very well apply to any compensation that Tyson is receiving from Animal Planet.
Considering its inherent cruelties, there's no question that pigeon racing should be illegal. Birds who are forced to race often struggle to survive extreme heat, hail, and thunderstorms, dodging both predators and cruel humans through grueling races that can be as long as 500 miles. Those who somehow do not succumb to exhaustion or injury and make their way home may still have their necks wrung by unsatisfied trainers.
Take a minute to write Animal Planet and politely let the network know that while you love shows like Whale Wars and Animal Cops—programs in which people go to bat for animals—a program in which people bet on cruelty is a bad hand for everyone.
Written by Shawna Flavell
In an effort to rebuild his image, Mike Tyson has a new Animal Planet series in the works, tentatively titled Taking on Tyson and slated to premiere in 2011. The former heavyweight fighter will use the program to showcase his passion for pigeons via his exploits in the pigeon-racing industry.
While we would never knock someone's love for these intelligent birds, Tyson's claim to care about pigeons is rather incredulous given that he chooses to tout using them in a "sport" that—like horseracing—exposes them to danger and death. In a typical race, the birds are taken great distances—sometimes as many as 500 miles—away from their homes and then released to see if they can find their way back. It can only be a traumatic experience, as evidenced by the fallen pigeons who succumb to storms, shotgun pellets, and collisions with high-tension wires and who are often found starving, exhausted, and a long way from home. Pigeons mate for life, and the likelihood that both partners will find each other again or that the bird who is released will be reunited with the one left in the coop is a crapshoot. For those banded birds who are found by concerned citizens or turned in to humane societies and have their bands traced, the voice on the other end of the phone is likely to say what we have been told directly, i.e., "Wring their necks, that's what we do with losers."
Mike Tyson likes to tell the story of the first time that he beat someone up, saying it was over someone wanting to hurt one of "his" pigeons. Well, in pigeon racing, he'll meet a lot of people he can beat up if that's the criteria, but if he really wants to rehabilitate his image, then the seedy underbelly of the pigeon-racing world isn't the ideal stage for him. If you'd like to contact Animal Planet to state your opinion on whether this show should air or if the network should stick to Whale Wars and Animal Cops, please send a polite message to Discovery Communications' viewer relations department.
Written by Logan Scherer
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.